Sunday, March 30, 2008
Our friend Meta died yesterday. She fought it out with ovarian cancer for three years, winning battles but never quite vanquishing the cancer; and she realized a few weeks ago her body couldn't win the war. Hospice, in her room overlooking the farm in Red Wing, eased her final days. Her husband Mark has been with her every step of the way.
We last saw them when we took lunch down two months ago. Ann made chili and cornbread. Meta was fighting tumors, had a cold, was recovering from chemo a week prior and an infection that had sent her back to Mayo, but she was an extremely gracious host. She didn't waste any effort, but was funny and very present. When I have just a cold - forget the rest - I'm lousy company. Her presence was a great gift.
Meta didn't suffer fools gladly even when they were doctors, and she kept on top of the art, science and technology of ovarian cancer treatment with an extremely keen mind. She posted the results of her research and her personal experience on her CaringBridge pages here and here. I find it lovely just to read her voice.
Ann and I taught whitewater tandem canoe with Meta and Mark for several years and we rocked at it. We had two women and two couples teaching a sometimes macho sport in what is generally referred to as "the divorce boat," and showed how it could be done well and still love your sweetie at the end of the day. It was repeatedly the high point of my year. Outside the class they have been our favorite boating partners in Minnesota, Wisconsin and the southeast, and just great friends.
Sitting here writing, I would love to talk about Meta's incisive - wicked - sense of humor, her never-ending love of the outdoors and all God's creatures (except box elder bugs), and the potency of her friendship; but I imagine Meta at my shoulder saying "cut the crap," so I'll try to keep this short. Meta decreed a no-nonsense rule on memorials, and love her as I do, I fear her a little in this. During the first successful go-round leading to her remission two years ago, Meta as Warrior Woman unleashed a potent force of "you are not wanted here" on her cancer and it backed right down. I saw how just merciless she could be; and if Meta is possibly in a position to open up a celestial can of whoop-ass on someone in the earthly realm, I don't want it to be me.
We love you, Meta. We love you, Mark.